Study Guide

Reservoir Dogs Language and Communication

Language and Communication

MR. BROWN: Like a Virgin's not about some sensitive girl who meets a nice fella. That's what True Blue's about. Granted, no argument about that.

MR. ORANGE: Which one's True Blue?

NICE GUY EDDIE: You ain't heard True Blue? It was a big ass hit for Madonna. I don't even follow that Tops of the Pops s***, and even I've heard of True Blue.

MR. ORANGE: Yeah, so, I ain't saying I ain't heard of it. You know; all I asked is how's it go. Excuse me for not being the world's biggest Madonna fan.

MR. BLONDE: Personally, I can do without her.

MR. BLUE: I used to like her early stuff, Borderline. When she got all into that Papa Don't Preach phase, I tuned out.

MR. BROWN: You guys are like making me lose my train of thought here. I was saying something. What was it?

The diner scene is a perfect example of the very natural dialogue the characters have. It's full of pop culture references and interruptions and tangents and all sorts of back and forth. It's not uber concise and witty, it's real talk.

MR. WHITE: Now we're in the warehouse. Who's a tough guy? Who's a tough guy? Come on. Who's a tough guy?

MR. ORANGE: I'm a tough guy, Larry!

MR. WHITE: You're a tough guy. You're a f***ing tough guy. OK. OK. We're in the warehouse. Look where we are. We did it. We made it. We f***ing made it. We have f***ing made it. We're in the warehouse. Look where we are. Look where we are. Hold on, buddy boy. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

MR. ORANGE: S***!

MR. WHITE: Stop banging your head. You're going to bang a f***ing hole in the floor. You don't want to hurt the f***ing floor, do you? I can't do anything for you, but when Joe gets here, which should be any time now, he's going to help you out. He's going to take care of you. okay - we're just going to sit here and wait for Joe. Who are we waiting for?

ORANGE: Joe

White does a surprisingly good job for a hardened criminal of taking care of the badly wounded Orange. He tries his hardest to keep his spirits up, make jokes, and just always be talking to him. He's doing exactly what you're supposed to do for someone who's out of control and scared to death—orient them in time and place, so they can stay focused. This dialogue creates just about the only real emotional connection in the movie. It's painful to watch, because we know who Orange is.

MR. WHITE: Okay. Let's go through what happened.

MR. PINK: Okay.

MR. WHITE: We're in the place. Everything's going fine. Then the alarm gets tripped.

MR. PINK: Right.

MR. WHITE: I turn around and all these cops are outside. You're right, because bam! I blinked my eyes, and they're there. Everybody starts going apes***—

MR. PINK: That's not correct.

MR. WHITE: What's wrong with it?

MR. PINK: OK. The cops did not show up as the alarm went off. The cops didn't show up until after Mr. Blonde started shooting everybody.

MR. WHITE: As soon as I heard the alarm - I saw the cops.

MR. PINK: Nah, man I'm telling you it wasn't that soon, okay. They didn't let their presence be known until after Mr. Blonde became a madman. All right. I'm not saying they weren't there. I'm saying they were there, but they didn't make their move until after Mr. Blonde started shooting everybody. I mean, that's how I know we were set up. Come on, Mr. White, I mean you could see that, can't you?

Because most of the action of the movie has already happened, the big questions lie in the past. Communication is important in figuring out what exactly happened, and how, and why. Just like in Orange's commode story, the details matter.

MR. BLONDE: Hold still! Hold still, you f***! [slices Marvin's ear off]. That as good for you as it was for me? [talks into sliced-off ear] Hey, what's going on? You hear that? Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back.

What makes this scene so horrifying isn't the violence of it. We don't even get a true shot of the ear slicing (not that we wanted one). No, the worst part is the overly casual way Blonde talks to Marvin. He makes jokes, telling him not to move, talking into the ear and telling him not to go anywhere when he's tied down. It's the nonchalance more than the blood that creeps us out.

HOLDAWAY: Pretend you're Don Rickles or some-f***ing-body and tell the joke, all right. Now the things you gotta remember are the details. It's the details that sell your story. Now this particular story takes place in a mens' room. So you got to know all the details about the mens' room; you gotta know if they got paper towels or a blower to dry your hands with. You gotta know if the stalls ain't got no doors or not, man. You gotta know if they got liquid soap or that pink granulated powdered s*** they used to use in high school, remember? You gotta know if they got hot water or not, if it stinks. If some nasty, low-life, scum-ridden motherf***er, man, sprayed diarrhea all over one of the bowls. You got to know every detail there is to know about this commode. So what you've got to do is take all them details, man, and make them your own. While you're doing that, you gotta remember this story's about you and how you perceived the events that went down. The only way to do that, my brother-- keep saying it and saying it and saying it and saying it and saying it.

Again, it's all about the details, and method acting—convincing yourself that you're the guy in the story so you can be convincing to others. Orange learns the tricks of the storytelling trade and manages to get the job. We're not sure what it was about him that Joe later said he "wasn't 100%" about, but Orange was able to make an impression.

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